image description May 28, 2014

8 Great Meals in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
8 Great Meals in Las Vegas

Sin City Recommendations

Las Vegas is wholly intoxicating, a city dedicated to sensory overload that’s all about being the biggest and the best. And while chefs from all over the country are generating a lot of great food in glamorous settings on the Strip, you won’t be sorry if you venture off the main drag for restaurants like Lotus of Siam and Raku. Here are eight meals that will not disappoint.

Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare


Few things are impossible in Vegas. Proof: Bartolotta. This gorgeous Wynn restaurant receives an assortment of seafood flown in daily from Italy. Clams, Sicilian amberjack, turbot, cuttlefish—hours ago, these guys were swimming in the Mediterranean. Now, they’re cooked to perfection on the other side of the world (in a desert, no less!). Start out with their stunning live langoustines (some of the best on the planet), then follow up with a fantastic pasta, like spaghetti with rock lobster in a spicy tomato and white wine sauce. And since this is a special occasion kind of place, order a whole roast fish for the table—even if it’s just a table of two. Their expertly trained staff will walk you through which options will work best for your group.


Yusho Las Vegas

Chicago chef Matthias Merges’ first Las Vegas outpost is an unexpected gem on the Strip. Although the decor is fairly casual, the Japanese street food is ambitious, flavorful and addictively comforting. The small menu is split into six categories: grilled, fried, noodles, steamed buns, pickled and sweets, and with most items ringing in between $9 and $25, it’s one of the most approachable meals in this part of town. The grilled chicken wings are divine, tender with spice from the Thai chiles and a bit of sour lime. All of the steamed buns are worth trying, but I could eat the buns served with a duck leg that’s glazed in a sticky plum barbecue sauce everyday. The “poser” ramen with crispy pork, nori, cucumber and egg hits all of the right notes. And for dessert, the tofu donuts are the perfect sweet bite to end the meal… even tofu haters will love these.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon’s more casual Vegas restaurant is still temple of excellence, from the service to the food. First and foremost, make reservations. Try to score a spot at the 33-seat counter that overlooks the kitchen, you’ll be amazed at the artistry that goes into preparing each dish. If you have the time and the cash, spring for the 9-course Seasonal Discovery Tasting Menu. The meal starts off with something small and fresh, think avocado and cilantro-flavored grapefruit gelée with diced green apples, fleur de sel and chili pepper. Next up: smoked salmon with fingerling potatoes in a buttery shellfish sauce, foie gras-stuffed quail, and ribeye with roasted shallots. For dessert, there’s an impressive selection of French cheeses alongside traditional tarts, sorbets and more modern creations such as a raspberry-filled white chocolate sphere served with yuzu ice cream.



When I need a respite from the craziness of Las Vegas Boulevard, I call a cab and head to Raku, a serene little Japanese joint in a nondescript strip mall about 10 minutes away. While sushi bar staples such as peerless tuna-cut tastings and rare clams dot the menu, Raku also focuses on traditional izikaya fare: small soup bowls, homemade tofu dishes and a wide array of robata—meats, fish and veggies grilled on oak binchotan, a Japanese charcoal that burns at a higher temperature and contains less moisture, helping to cook ingredients with a crisper finish. From apple-marinated lamb chops to charred eggplant and grilled tomato with bacon, everything is served à la carte. The crowd is 99 percent Japanese, with a few tourists brave enough to venture off the beaten path—and a famous chef here and there for good measure. Raku is open until 3 a.m., perfect for kitchen gods and their crew after a grueling night on the line.

Heritage Steak

Heritage Steak

New York chef/restaurateur and Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak focuses on meats prepared entirely over an open flame–from wood-burning ovens to charcoal grills. Tucked into the first floor of the Mirage, the steakhouse is sleek yet relaxed, and the service impeccable. Starters include an incredible charred octopus with an almond and red pepper romesco sauce, braised pork belly with fried oysters, and ash-roasted bone marrow. The soy and chili-glazed scallop skewers with black garlic are phenomenal. For a main course, splurge on a heritage steak or opt for the duck breast with smoked pears. Even if you’re stuffed, the mascarpone panna cotta is amazing… light with a hint of lemon, yet rich and creamy, and served with huckleberry sorbet.

Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam

Just east of the Strip on Sahara Avenue, Lotus of Siam used to be one of the culinary world’s best kept secrets. Not anymore. Chefs, presidents, kings and regular folks all make a pilgrimage here for the cooking of chef Saipin Chutima, whose authentic Thai food is considered some of the best in North America. She’s a James Beard award-winner who learned to cook from the women in her family growing up in Thailand and from 20 years of running her own restaurant. Start with the yum nuah, or Thai beef salad, and tom yum kai, a lime and lemongrass-infused hot and sour chicken soup. Don’t skip the garlic and pepper squid or the incredibly flavorful and perfectly crisp duck with holy basil and chiles. Honestly, anything from the expansive menu is worth trying, so go with a crowd and order lots to share. And don’t forget to make a reservation, even if it’s a Monday.



Carnevino is the Italian steakhouse of your dreams. When Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Jason Neve and Adam Perry Lang team up to create a restaurant, you definitely want to try it. Steaks are hand selected by meat master Lang and dry-aged for six to eight months in a meat chamber. When it comes to beef, the bone-in ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon and classic Florentine porterhouse are excellent choices. Ordering a hunk of meat is a must, but don’t forget you’re at a Batali restaurant, so I’d suggest starting with a few Italian antipasti–steamed clams with pancetta, Sicilian tuna salad, caprese with burrata and basil–and trying a few handmade pasta dishes.



Jose Andrés remains one of the most singular forces on the American culinary scene. In addition to his chef/owner role of ThinkFoodGroup, he’s an advocate for food and hunger issues, an author, educator, and TV personality. At Jaleo, Andrés reinvents the traditional Spanish food of his childhood, serving fantastic tapas and paella.  The centerpiece of this Vegas outpost is the paella grill, an open-fire wood grill designed to cook paellas in the authentic Spanish way. I love the seafood paella made with cuttlefish and lobster, or the classic paella valenciana with chicken, rabbit and green beans. When it comes to tapas, order the traditional pulpo a la gallega, boiled octopus with potatoes, pimentón and olive oil, and the ultra garlicky gambas al ajillo.



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